Meditations: Scientific Research and Facts

Meditation Research“Neuroscientists have discovered that when you ask the brain to meditate, it gets better not just at meditating, but at a wide range of self-control skills, including attention, focus, stress management, impulse control, and self-awareness. People who meditate regularly aren’t just better at these things. Over time, their brains become finely tuned willpower machines. Regular meditators have more gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, as well as regions of the brain that support self-awareness. It doesn’t take a lifetime of meditation to change the brain. Some researchers have started to look for the smallest dose of meditation needed to see benefits (an approach my students deeply appreciate, since not many are going to head off to the Himalayas to sit in a cave for the next decade). These studies take people who have never meditated before— even folks who are skeptical of the whole thing — and teach them a simple meditation technique like the one you’ll learn just ahead. One study found that just three hours of meditation practice led to improved attention and self-control. After eleven hours, researchers could see those changes in the brain. The new meditators had increased neural connections between regions of the brain important for staying focused, ignoring distractions, and controlling impulses. Another study found that eight weeks of daily meditation practice led to increased self-awareness in everyday life, as well as increased gray matter in corresponding areas of the brain. It may seem incredible that our brains can reshape themselves so quickly, but meditation increases blood flow to the prefrontal cortex, in much the same way that lifting weights increases blood flow to your muscles. The brain appears to adapt to exercise in the same way that muscles do, getting both bigger and faster in order to get better at what you ask of it.”

“The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works” by Kelly McGonigal Ph.D. (Stanford University Psychologist)

“Mindfulness meditation has several mental health benefits such as bringing about reductions in depression symptoms, and mindfulness interventions also appear to be a promising intervention for managing depression in youth. Mindfulness meditation is useful for managing stress, anxiety, and also appears to be effective in treating substance use disorders. Mindfulness meditation can enhance the psychological functioning of breast cancer survivors, effective for eating disorders, and may also be effective in treating psychosis.”

“A 6 week mindfulness based intervention was found to correlate with a significant gray matter increase within the precuneus.”

Wikipedia – Research on Meditation

“Compassion meditation has been shown to lower the participants reaction to inflammation and distress, both of which are associated with, “major depression, heart disease and diabetes,” in response to stressors, a change that was dependent on the amount of time spent practicing, with practitioners who spent more time meditating having corresponding more significant changes in their brains.”

There is a very interesting article 20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today in Psychology Today by Emma Seppala.